Published JUne 2, 2023
IN a blow to the decades old fight against the Shire of York being used as the dumping ground for Perth’s waste last week the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended environmental approval for a landfill proposal at Allawuna Farm, 15km west of York and adjacent to Perth’s water catchment.
Concerns have been raised that leachate could seep out of the landfill causing contamination of surface and groundwater, and while the EPA has acknowledged the potential for contamination they said the landfill’s design was consistent with industry practice and was suitable for the proposed location
The shires of York and Mundaring, along with the Avon Valley Residents Association and York Business Association, are united in their opposition to the proposal by Alkina Holdings’s Great Southern Landfill which the EPA has recommended for approval subject to strict conditions, with the short appeal period to close on June 12.
York President Denese Smythe told Echo News a petition was being circulated by the York Business Association to present to the Premier with a letter along with letters to the Environment and Tourism Ministers.
Cr Smythe said the proposal could expect 120 truck movements a day, with landfill trucks leaving every 15-20 minutes along with BGC quarry, grain and hay trucks that use the Great Southern Highway.
“York has just won a silver medal in the Tourism Awards and this week we have a kids festival, but I am concerned if in the future people will want to drive if they have to contend with that number of trucks,” she said.
“Council has vowed to fight the decision and has instructed our CEO to obtain legal and planning advice to put in an appeal to the EPA Appeals Convener.
Our planning scheme says no tips and we changed our planning scheme in 2018 to reflect that.”
Mundaring President James Martin said the shire was concerned with the potential impacts of leachate flow to the downstream water catchment areas, and the increase in truck traffic on Great Eastern Highway through townsites and residential areas of the Shire of Mundaring.
“We have previously been opposed to similar proposals and in earlier submissions the Shire of York and the Joint Wheatbelt Development Assessment Panel have considered the landfill application and comments received and twice rejected the proposal,” Cr Martin said.
He said a SAT directions was scheduled for hearing on Friday, June 2 to consider an appeal, which has been vacated and relisted to August 4.
“It is the seventh time since September 2021 the hearing has been deferred.”
Avon Valley Residents Association chair and former York Shire councillor Keith Schekkerman said the Planning Minister should explain why this proposal was progressing without planning approval.
“The farm in question is right next to the Mundaring water catchment and this alone should raise some alarm bells,” Mr Schekkerman said.
“Landfills will leak and over time pollute the water table, which in all likelihood is connected to the catchment area.
“The approval leaves two major issues unresolved.
“The transport of 250,000 tonnes of rubbish from Kewdale to York and the lack of planning approval for the project.
He warned the Mundaring and hills community would be greatly impacted by the transport issue creating an endless stream of road trains coming up the hill and through Mundaring.
“It is estimated a road train will leave every 15 minutes and it is inevitable they will catch up with each other.
But these road trains also need to return to their depot, so road trains will be going both ways right through Mundaring and the hills.’’
The proposal to operate a landfill for receiving Class II or III solid waste of up to 250,000 tonnes a year includes up to seven landfill cells, leachate ponds, stormwater retention ponds, sediment management structures, stormwater diversion structures and an upgrade to the access road and Great Southern Highway intersection.
When recommending the proposal the EPA noted the consideration of some impacts to society, economic benefit and land use planning were outside its legal remit under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
An EPA release urged consultation across all relevant state government portfolios to ensure matters the EPA was unable to consider were fully regarded, particularly with respect to land use planning and other social and economic impacts.
EPA chair Professor Matthew Tonts said the independent Authority recognised the level of community concern and noted that the proposal was not consistent with the Shire of York’s current planning scheme.
“The EPA considered the proposal as it related to significant environmental impacts but was not able to consider concerns outside of these matters,” he said.
“It is important that decision-makers across government give full consideration to those issues beyond the scope of the EPA, especially as they relate to planning and regional development.”
The EPA report recommends the proposal be implemented subject to offset conditions relating to the clearing of black cockatoo habitat trees, a feral animal monitoring and control area and measures to minimise impacts associated with waste disposal.
The Minister will make the final decision on the proposal. Appeals can be made at www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au